Utah Library Drops Salt Lake’s Alt-Weekly Over Complaints, Reconsiders

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(AP) Provo’s city library stopped carrying the free Salt Lake City Weekly after complaints and now is reconsidering that decision after a strong complaint from a patron who missed seeing it.

Library administrators pulled the alternative publication in the fall because of complaints about its content and particularly certain advertisements.

City Weekly has a circulation of 60,500 and is carried in 37 public libraries. It has more than 1,800 outlets, including several bookstores, coffee shops, and convenience stores in Provo.

Provo Library Director Gene Nelson said that since the paper is free, administrators felt dropping it wasn’t a big deal when the complaints started a few months ago.

But on Monday, a man complained adamantly about not having the paper available, and administrators decided to revisit the issue.

“With any complaint, I want to sit back and take a look at our policy and make sure that it follows that policy,” Nelson said. “We’re far from perfect individuals. We’ll analyze it and see if we did the right thing or the wrong thing. If we did the wrong thing, then we’ll do the right thing.”

Nelson said the library subscribes to several local and national newspapers and chooses which free publications to carry.

Administrators will meet today to decide whether or not the weekly will return to library racks.

City Weekly has seen its share of complaints about content, but the idea of a library not stocking the publication because of complaints seems uncharacteristic to City Weekly Editor Ben Fulton.

“This being an issue of a public library where all ideas and all viewpoints are supposed to be welcome,” Fulton said, “we would hope they would still carry our paper for the reading public that is interested in what we have to offer.”

Fulton said he understands the difference between Salt Lake City and Provo’s Utah County.

“In a county where Rodin sculptures can cause offense, one person’s ceiling is another person’s floor,” he said. “When it’s a public library, the director should keep in mind the overall role of a free marketplace of ideas in a free society.”

Joel Campbell, a BYU communications professor, said there are concerns about what young children might get their hands on.

“You have to ask what is the harm being caused versus the public good,” Campbell said. “Certainly there is public good from the kind of journalism City Weekly does. If you could strike a balance between the public good and the children.”

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